Log cabins are in fashion again – hooray! When considering secondhand residential log cabins for sale, remember they are not just for holiday homes or man caves in the woods, but as permanent dwellings. They make very good houses to live and raise your children. They are airy, eco-friendly, and the sound of the timber when your feet strike the floor is simply musical. Log cabins come in all shapes and sizes, and there’s something for all budgets. From grand wooden chalets to quaint garden cabins, and everything in between.
But secondhand can come with issues. We don’t want to be all doom and gloom, but there are a few things you need to look out for. It is very important that you keep an eye out for these details, as the results will inform you how much more money (beside the buying price) you need to spend on renovations. The ‘health’ of the house also determines how much time you can live there, and will impact your quality of life.
Water is the most destructive force when it comes to log cabins. If it accumulates in the wood, rotting then follows. Check the doors and windows from the inside to see gaps where water may enter the interior unbidden.
The wood that is in contact with the soil is more likely to rot as the logs soak up moisture in the soil, and is a good target for termites. Rotten wood is usually characterized by discoloration and sometimes with a damp odour. Where the rot occurs internally one can’t tell by looking. A good way to confirm that the wood is not rotten is to knock it with a hammer slightly. Rotten wood produces a hollow sound whereas healthy wood produces a solid thump. Apart from contact with the ground, rot often occurs where lots connect, so check the joints too for wood rot. Ensure that the cabin is raised at least six inches off the ground, and if some logs are in contact with the ground, confirm that they are pressure-treated.
They are quite common in log cabins and you shouldn’t worry too much. Character cracks develop naturally as a log cabin ages, and don’t take much from the house. Cracks are only problematic if they are over a quarter inch in size, or if the cracks face upwards, since they might provide avenues for water to infiltrate the logs. Cracks in the chinking (the sealant between the logs) are also no issue, since the chinking can be easily redone.
You typically want a log cabin with an overhanging roof, as it keeps rainwater from the logs and foundation. One-storey cabins should have a minimum 24-inch overhang, and two-storey cabins should have 36 inches. Short overhangs allow runoff water to splash back on the lower parts of the cabin. Ensure that the gutters provide adequate drainage for the water by pouring a jug of water down them. Since a lot of log cabins are built in areas with a lot of trees, you need to check the condition of the roof, as falling branches and debris can do significant damage over time. Steer clear of houses with roofs that have humps and dips.
Pay close attention to the edges of the wood and their joints, especially the parts exposed to weather elements. A tell-tale sign is the presence of closely grouped holes that insects such as termites, carpenter ants and bees bore into wood. You might also spot insect wings. Some insects can be eradicated by fumigation, but where the infestation is severe, the wood may be significantly damaged, leaving the structure at risk of collapsing.
If the house walls exhibit any significant movement, that’s a major red flag in the structural integrity of the log cabin. A tell-tale indicator is bowing of the floor or wall surfaces. Log homes tend to shrink and settle on the ground with time. Periodically opening the doors and windows usually helps them maintain their natural shape.
Other things to consider
Secondhand residential log cabins for sale crop up all the time. You will want to keep a lookout for these factors both in the interior and exterior of the house. Some pertinent questions you need to ask are if the house is insured, and the last time the cabin was stained or chinked. If that period is over 7 years, understand that corn blasting the exterior and re-staining it can be an expensive process.
From there, visit the local town’s property registry to find out how many times the house has been sold and how often. A log cabin that changes ownership often might be a sign of a problem with the house that previous owners did not wish to deal with.